[Photos by Will Crooks]
BANDWAGON founder Harold Hughes and Ben Moore, founder of tForm and Parmetric, have spent the last year growing their businesses from scratch and learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.
But now they’re helping others do the same.
The two entrepreneurs have partnered and opened a co-working space to promote collaboration among startups and freelancers. The space, which is called The Collective at Society Hall, is located at 504 Rhett St. in the West End.
“We want to be part of the next wave of entrepreneurs. Part of that is building companies. So we’re providing that collaborative environment where entrepreneurs and creatives can help each other and also create a community,” Hughes said. “We want Greenville’s companies homegrown, and we want driven people together.”
The Collective offers members about 2,000 square feet of mixed-used space, including 19 workspaces for individuals and companies, two meeting rooms with video and phone conference capabilities and a common space for special events.
“We want Greenville’s companies homegrown, and we want driven people together.”
The rustic industrial-style space also includes bike storage, a kitchen and a fitness center with a treadmill, stationary bike, free weights and locker rooms. Members and regular guests can lease parking spaces throughout the West End.
The space also offers several membership plans, which range from $375 month-to-month plans to $300 yearly plans. Nonmembers can purchase a $20 pass that allows them to use the space from 7 a.m.–8 p.m. for one day. The space is open from 5 a.m. to midnight for members.
“We’re urging a lot of people to buy our yearly plans, because we want them here more often. We want them to feel like they’re missing something if they’re not here regularly,” said Moore. “We’re creating an inclusive, collaborative environment that could really boost entrepreneurship in Greenville.”
The Collective is rooted in entrepreneurship. Last year, Hughes and Moore became friends through the Founder Institute, which helps entrepreneurs further develop their business plans. After graduating, Hughes launched BANDWAGON, an online marketplace for sports tickets, and Moore launched tForm, a company that produces thermoformed packaging.
In June, Hughes and Moore attended an entrepreneurship conference and discussed their growing pains. Moore was about to launch his second business, Parmetric, and Hughes’ BANDWAGON team had grown to eight people. Both needed more office space to accommodate their growth.
In August, Hughes and Moore began searching for a space where they could collaborate with one another and other entrepreneurs. They found Society Hall, a newly renovated building that also houses advertising agency Up&Up and commercial real estate investment group RealOp.
The duo signed their lease in October. “Society Hall has put us on the opposite end of other co-work spaces in downtown, which is a real advantage,” Hughes said. “I’d say we’re on the rising tide of the co-working trend.”
“We want them to feel like they’re missing something if they’re not here regularly.”
There are about five co-working spaces in or around downtown Greenville. That includes The Wheelhouse and Textile Hall, which just opened this year. The Collective is the only co-working space in the West End. That fact has garnered the space a lot of interest so far, according to Hughes.
Since opening in November, the space has gained nine members from various industries, including graphic design and technology. “It’s been great for me, because I was working from home before. Harold and Ben have really created a community here. They even let us help name the space,” said Alex LaCasse of MTN LLC, a Greenville-based video production company. “It’s just been really impressive.”
Hughes and Moore have big plans for The Collective.
The duo is currently hosting free community events on the second floor of Society Hall. The monthly events are open to the public and geared towards startups. For example, Greenville technical innovation leader Wes Johnson recently discussed starting a successful on-demand service startup within Michelin.
Future speakers include MapQuest founder Barry Glick and others.
In addition, Hughes and Moore are weighing their options as their space continues to fill up. “We may have to occupy some open spaces throughout town, but we’re not looking outside Greenville,” Hughes said. “We’re too focused on creating the city’s first Fortune 500 Company right now.”
The Collective is now offering tours and allowing interested companies and freelancers to use the space for free every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January.
For more information, visit thesocietyhall.com.